The 3 Alarms by Eric Partaker - my notes

  • My rating: 2/5
  • Pretty sure the author is not practicting what he’s preaching. Far too many details are missing to be truly useful. Feels like the author had a “cool idea” and then wrote a book about it but never actually used what he describes himself.

Main Takeaways

  • If you’re not careful, you will start drifting through liife going nowhere at all—or at least not where you want.
  • Key to personal development is identity-based change because it’s easier to adopt a new identity than modify individual behaviors or habits.
  • Pick a new identity in each life domain you want to improve and then establish “champion proofs” to help you stick to it.

On Drifting

“Author and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt calls this way of living “the drift.” At some point you look up and find yourself somewhere completely different than where you thought you’d be in life. Like a person mindlessly caught in a riptide, you don’t stop to evaluate where you’re going and why—until it’s perhaps too late. You’ll just float through life, going nowhere at all—or at least not where you want.”

On Procrastrination

“Whenever I felt the urge to procrastinate I would swap the “I have to” voice in my head with “I choose to.” You may not want to do a particular task, but you can always still choose to do it. This choice creates agency, helping you feel in control. Since you’re not being “forced” to do something, you’re less likely to employ procrastination as a self-defense tactic.”

On the 3 Alarms

“What if I set three alarms on my phone to trigger me: one to remind me I want to be healthy, one to remind me I want to be wealthy, and one to remind me I want to be a great husband and dad? I gave it a shot, and this simple action transformed my life.”

“At 6:30 a.m., the first alarm goes off: “World Fitness Champion.” The next rings at 9:00 a.m.: “World’s Best Coach.” The last one goes off at 6:30 p.m., right as I’m arriving home for the day: “World’s Best Husband and Father.””

“So what does the best version of you look like on the work front? Give it a name. Create an alarm. Start behaving more and more like that person every day, and soon, you’ll be on your way to creating the wealthiest you.”

On Identify Based Changes

“In Awaken Your Strongest Self, Neil Fiore writes about being in his early forties and hitting a plateau in his skiing abilities. He was an intermediate skier and wanted to be much better, but he had just stopped improving. One day, his ski instructor changed the script by saying, “For the rest of the day, you are Hans, the champion Swiss Alpine skier.” I don’t know if he actually chose the name Hans, but he basically told him to pretend he was a champion skier for the day. And something magical happened: Neil began to ski completely differently. He actually WAS skiing better. He was being Hans, not Neil.”

“it’s much easier to switch to a new identity than it is to change yourself or a behavior. The capacity to ski that well was always inside him; he needed only to think about himself differently.”

“It’s actually easier to step into a new identity than it is to try to create new habits and behaviors in a vacuum. As you change your identity, your behaviors and habits change, too.”

“Once you assume a new identity, you start behaving like this heroic version of yourself. As Nassim Taleb writes in Fooled by Randomness, “Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.” The more you repeat a behavior, the more you become the identity associated with it. Behaviors reinforce the identity we want, and our chosen identity guides our behaviors. It’s a virtuous cycle, although identity should come first—or at least it’s much easier when it does.”

“I decided to define one identity for each of the three domains of life, with a corresponding set of values that would define how that best-self version of me would act and behave.”

Making Identities Stick

“you have to create some kind of proof for yourself to really make a new identity stick.”

“I created a concept called “champion proofs,” similar to a practice Brian Johnson advocates, whereby you choose the number-one thing you could do each day to evidence you at your best.”

“As I go through the segments of my day, I pick one thing to accomplish within each domain as proof that I’m becoming a better me. In the gym, it may be that I’d like to burn 500 calories or do a certain number of sets and repetitions on the leg press. At work, maybe I set out to complete my content calendar or finish a presentation. And in my relationships, I could decide to play a video game with my son or have coffee with my wife or a friend. Whatever makes the most sense in each area of life within the context of that day.”

“You might look at a work day full of meetings and realize that there is one meeting that is significantly more important than the others. So you decide to carve out some extra preparation time to ensure you show up as your absolute best. On the health front, you might spot a potentially dangerous lunch appointment and decide in advance that you will stick to your healthy eating plan as your champion proof. And on the relationship front, you might simply decide to call a friend or family member as your action item for the day. Champion proofs let you rack up small wins, day after day, to prove you’re stepping into the person you’re capable of being.”

On his Morning Routine

“A perfect day for me begins with journaling, looking at the day ahead, and picking my champion proofs for each of my three best-self identities. I may write a statement or two to affirm myself. This serves to remind me of my strength, resilience, and brilliance. We all have that within us, by the way—you just need to remind yourself. Then I visualize being my best self in each domain in the context of that day. I anticipate where the day may go wrong, likely challenges, negative thoughts, or procrastination, and how I’ll deal with each.”

“Next up for me is meditation. I use a simple breathing meditation, nothing fancy. I sit in a relaxed, upright position, close my eyes, and begin taking some deep breaths, similar to the centering exercise I use when I’m tempted to procrastinate. I do this for ten minutes. Next, I will read for about twenty minutes. I love reading and often have trouble fitting it into my schedule. The solution I’ve found is to frontload it to make sure it gets done.”

““When would you like to take your antidepressant—at the start of the day to benefit from that mood boost, or at the end of your day before you go to sleep?” Nine times out of ten, clients say at the start of their day.”

On Coaching

“Coaching has been a secret weapon of mine for years, helping me not only achieve my best, but also rebound from difficult times. A coach will bolster your antifragility by both supporting you and holding you accountable. They will cheer you on while also asking you the tough questions no one else dares to ask. A coach is an impartial counsel, providing the camaraderie and challenge you need.”


“Peter Drucker famously said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.””

“John Burroughs: “Leap, and the net will appear.””

“When I found myself in a rut, I began asking myself how I was making things too difficult. Let things flow, and ask yourself how they could be easier.”

““What’s the one thing I could do such that by doing it everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?””

Written on May 27, 2023

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